Anti-lockdown and anti-vaccination activists rallied in London on Monday, despite nearly all coronavirus-related restrictions having been lifted the very same day.
Thousands gathered outside the Palace of Westminster, the seat of the country’s parliament, carrying signs reading “Unity Is Freedom” and “It’s Not a Pandemic, It’s an IQ Test.”
Protesters chanted, “Shame on Police” and demanded that Prime Minister Boris Johnson be arrested.
READ MORE: Revellers line up at London clubs to celebrate #FreedomDay as England lifts most Covid-19 restrictions at midnight
Though the rally was largely peaceful, there were tense moments when groups of demonstrators argued with police and some bottles were thrown at the officers.
The Metropolitan Police said they were working to defuse tensions when the crowd blocked traffic.
We are responding to a demonstration in Parliament Square this afternoon. A group have blocked the road which is causing traffic disruption. Officers are on scene, speaking with those taking part in the protest and looking to ease congestion as soon as possible.
— Metropolitan Police Events (@MetPoliceEvents) July 19, 2021
Monday was dubbed ‘Freedom Day’ online as restrictions on social gatherings and the mask mandate ended in England.
In a Twitter video, Johnson said the vaccination programme has “very severely weakened the link between infection and hospitalization, and between infection and serious illness.” He urged everyone to stay cautious during England’s reopening.
Like so many people I’ve been pinged by NHS Test and Trace as I have been in contact with someone with COVID-19, and I will be self-isolating until Monday 26th July. pic.twitter.com/X57gDpwDqe
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) July 18, 2021
Labour Party leader Keir Starmer, meanwhile, argued that it was reckless to lift many restrictions at once, and by doing so the UK risks “a summer of chaos.”
Lifting all restrictions at once is reckless – and doing so when the Johnson Variant is already out of control risks a summer of chaos.Labour does not support the Government’s plan.Boris Johnson’s incompetence will have deadly consequences for the British public.
— Keir Starmer (@Keir_Starmer) July 19, 2021
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